The Wall Street Journal reported recently (7/18/19) that CFOs of public companies are retiring at the fastest pace in over a decade. Exit rates of nearly 18% annually are now thought to be higher than for CEOs, a historically high turnover job. The trend, captured by a survey commissioned by the Journal, is said to be the result of a variety of factors:

  • the increased pressure on today’s CFOs to respond to an increasingly aware – and critical – investing public,
  • the often added responsibility of operations, technology, talent management and human resources, often requiring more and more time spent on the job,
  • increasing involvement in setting strategy and executing deals,
  • M&A deals that accelerate vesting of restricted stock options,
  • and, of course, normal retirement age decisions.

What does that mean for the CFOs of non-public companies? While they don’t typically get the visibility of their public counterparts – and they don’t have the cushion of cashing out restricted stock options – the same pressures are often felt, maybe even more acutely because the typically smaller organization size presents fewer options for offloading those pressures to skilled executive team members. And, of course, many private company CFOs have not had the opportunity to grow into these areas before having the responsibility. Some universities offer programs aimed directly at this market. Harvard, Wharton, University of Chicago and Stanford all offer such programs for enhancing CFO skills in strategy, leadership and communication. The challenge is getting the off-site training while also having to be in the office doing the job.

The silver lining in this could be the opportunity to present subordinate managers in privately held companies with career enhancing growth education that builds employee loyalty, makes employees more valuable to the company, and enables CFOs to manage more and execute less.

What might that look like?

Some of the readily available options include payment for online courses offered by specialized educational resources like Illumeo.com or in-person courses at local universities. More generous options could include financing an MBA program or Master’s degree, or at the high end individual professional one-on-one coaches. As the cost goes up, so does the opportunity to tailor the training to the individual. And so does, presumably, the gratitude of the employee whose career is being enhanced by their employer.

 

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